Earlier this month Fremont YSC Director of Coaching, Gavin Carvalho, attend an educational event with Raymond Verheijen. Raymond Verheijen is held in high regard throughout world soccer, having coaching positions with the Dutch national team, Welsh national team, and consulted for world heavy weights Argentina.
Individual Training within the Team Environment
Presented By Raymond Verheijen
100% of all sports coaches in the world want their players to give 100% when they are on the pitch, so why are coaches not giving 100% of their effort at the same time?
With statements like this, Raymond Verheijen set the tone for the day of instruction by letting all the coaches in attendance know that he wanted, and we needed to be as good as we can be at every possible opportunity.
Addressing the individual player
“Players can learn from what a coach says, but more from how the coach behaves on and off the field”
Every player learns in their own way, be it visual, auditory or kinesthetic and our responsibility as a coach/educator is to find the most optimal method of learning for each individual player. At Fremont YSC, each activity is shown with a group of players where the coach describes the activity and the focus for the auditory learners, demonstrate the activity for the visual learners and run the activity for the kinesthetic learners. This process ensures that every player’s optimal learning style is addressed, and each player has the best opportunity to learn.
The individual player’s roles and responsibilities can be communicated and demonstrated to the player within the team’s tactical sessions. It is a challenge for the coach to use the optimal learning method to address the educational needs of the player in that moment. Coaching the individual player during the game situation provides for the optimal coaching opportunity as you are working within the reference point. The player can see the direct impact of his learned actions to reinforce the behavior.
Coaches must create the environment in practice and games that allows the players to see the problems, try out solutions, fail and learn the correct solution. The most ideal way is to allow them to play the game with minimal stoppages and offer short, concise instructions to players when they are off the ball.
Players can evaluate and find solutions in the game, It is our responsibility to ask the right questions to help them find the answers.
Raymond Verheijen focuses on the “what”. The “What” relates what you are going to teach, the point is made clear that the “how” cannot be told to us as our environment is completely different to his and the vice versa. The “What” is made clear by using reliable references.
Each coach must have a reference for each practice session and activity that is a part of it. This ideally is the real game scenario, a 11v11 game played on a full-sized soccer field. The coach can recognize areas to improve from the real game scenario to then address directly in the practice sessions. This would qualify as Objective Knowledge References as they are real game scenarios and can be relied upon.
It is important that we refrain from using Subjective Knowledge References, which refer to personal experiences and interpretations of those experiences. For example, a coach that reflects on his past playing days and says “Back in my day, we used to run 30 laps and do push ups after every practice, we were the best around”, that is the “Coach’s truth” as opposed to “The Truth”. Today’s truth is that those activities can be incorporated into the soccer practice through purposeful practice that is relevant to soccer specific fitness. We also cannot use a Barcelona vs Madrid game as a reference point for U13 Boys as their environment and more importantly, they’re “truth” is different than ours.
Per Verheijen’s Philosophy, Soccer is comprised of 4 different parts, very simple they are:
1. Communication: Refers to the tactical ideas and composition of the team and club. Sessions create complex scenarios and involve many players.
2. Decision Making: Refers to the execution of technique. Guided discovery is the primary coaching tool that is used. Asking the players purposeful questions about the in game scenario to engage them, help them find solutions which are they’re own which gets their buy-in and develops trust.
3. Executing decisions: Refers to the technical ability (dribbling, passing, shooting and defending) to execute the decisions. Focused on in the younger age groups, can be small sided to encourage repetition but must still have opposition.
4. Fitness: Ability to execute soccer specific actions at an optimal rate for the duration of a 90 minute game.
Verheijen stresses the importance of inputting the players into an “uncomfortable” environment to create the optimal learning experience, i.e. a challenging environment that is relevant to the game and activities/games that finish on goal, which is like the real game. The challenging environment can easily be created by inputting opposition into the majority of soccer activities that include the transition from attack to defense (we to they) and defense to attack (they to we).